20th Sep 2017

Europe could build nuclear fusion reactor without US help

A groundbreaking international research project is in jeopardy after the French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin threatened that Europe could complete the project without US help.

Mr Raffarin said yesterday (12 January) that Europe could go it alone and build the World’s first nuclear fusion power station, despite Europe being engaged in the nineteen-year-old project.

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"We have to have ITER [the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor], even if we do it ourselves" Mr Raffarin said.

"The Europeans could do it, possibly with Canada. We won't let go of this. We're in a negotiation phase and we're determined".

Mr Raffarin’s comments come as France appears to be losing the battle to host the plant, with Washington recently announcing its support for Japan’s bid.

His comments are likely to again complicate US-French relations which were badly damaged by the war in Iraq and could affect wider transatlantic co-operation.

The Commission on Tuesday appeared to back Mr Raffarin with a spokesperson saying it was "not impossible" for Europe to go it alone, before adding that it would require a "substantial amount of money".

After setting aside the Spanish proposal for a site last year, Europe agreed to present the Southern French town of Cadarache as its site.

The project, which has a nine-billion euro price tag, is the focus of co-operation between Canada, China, Europe, Japan, Russia and the US.

It is hoped the ITER project will culminate with the creation of a nuclear fusion power plant, which will produce energy in the same way as the Sun and will be cleaner and more cost effective than fission power.

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